Pine Marten Conservation in the UK: are there lessons for protecting red squirrels?

At Westmorland Red Squirrels’ AGM on 25 May 2017 John Martin entertained us with an informative illustrated talk on Pine Martens and their relationship with red and grey squirrels. John described his research on the ecology, lifestyle and breeding habits of pine martens over the past 14 years in Galloway Forest, relating it to other research in Ireland and central Wales.

John’s images and analysis of scats, and what they tell us about pine martens’ diet, were particularly informative, not least in exposing the extent to which martens predate grey or red squirrels. The evidence in Galloway at least, but also apparently emerging in studies in Ireland and mid-Wales, suggests that field voles, small birds, and fruit and nuts make up the majority of their diet, though environment and seasonality are influential. Evidence of red or grey squirrel in scats, in John’s experience, was extremely rare. Here’s a link to John’s presentation>>

BBC Countryfile on squirrels

If you missed the last episode of BBC Countryfile and you can get iPlayer, you might enjoy the piece on red squirrels showing the trapping and tagging of reds (with no ill effects) in order to ascertain if nest boxes could be erected to mitigate the effects of felling. The whole programme is well worth watching – squirrels come on at 55 minutes into the episode. See:

Red Squirrel Conservation: past, present and future

Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Windermere Local Support Group have organised a talk at the Marchesi Centre in Windermere on Thursday, 09/03/2017 – 7:00pm8:30pm. David Hill, founder member of Red Alert North West, will speak about red squirrel conservation in the past and Bob Cartwright, secretary of Westmorland Red Squirrel Society, will speak about present and future conservation. More details here>>

Non-lethal ways of reducing invasive grey squirrel populations

Work is being stepped up to develop an oral contraceptive specifically for controlling grey squirrels, which are such a threat to our red squirrels. A report in The Independent summarises the next phase of work by the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency to develop the vaccine and design grey-only traps. More details here: . The same story is covered in The Times 

Cumbria Community Foundation Grant

We’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant of £1000 by Cumbria Community Foundation to pay towards volunteer travel expenses over the next 12 months.  This is most welcome and will help us to provide vital conservation work to protect our red squirrels in South Lakeland.

News of the Pine Marten project in Wales

The 2016 Autumn issue of Red Squirrel News, just published by the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Partnership, brings an update on the Pine Marten re-introduction project in Wales.

© Vincent Wildlife TrustJust what impact are those pine martens having on our squirrels? Find out how Chris Harris is playing his part in the Pine Marten Restoration Project and get the latest news from our trail cams. A Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) remote camera has captured some amazing pine marten footage of a kit trying to take its first steps out of the box and then falling.  Mum comes to the rescue, but is mid-lunch when it happens and she has a grey squirrel in her mouth! Mum drops the squirrel and rescues her wayward kit, carrying it back up the tree before returning for her squirrel. This fabulous clip>> demonstrates that grey squirrel control might be one positive outcome of the VWT’s Pine Marten Restoration Project.

You can read full story in the Autumn issue of Red Squirrel News here>>

Red squirrel at Brockhole!

Brockhole croppedWe’re delighted to report that a red squirrel has been spotted at the Lake District National Park’s Visitor Centre at Brockhole – seen near the bird hide by one of the LDNPA’s volunteers. Not only that, but Wendy Carroll has managed to photograph it!

It’s been a long-held ambition of Westmorland Red Squirrels to see red squirrels back at Brockhole, and thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the help and cooperation of LDPNA staff at Brockhole we now have the first recorded red sighting for many, many years. Well done, everyone!

If you see a red squirrel at Brockhole or anywhere else, please report it using our online form>>


Apprentices needed for the Rusland Horizons Scheme

Would you like to play a vital role in an ambitious scheme to revive traditional skills and restore the unique wooded landscape of a wonderful part of South Lakeland? Following a successful, community-led bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Lake District National Park Authority, on behalf of the Rusland Valley & Fells Landscape Partnership, is now looking to recruit six apprentices to help deliver the Rusland Horizons Scheme. If that’s you, or you know someone that might fit the bill, read on>>